The aim of this study was to validate the kilovoltage X-ray energy spectrum on the ID17 beamline at the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF). The purpose of such validation was to provide an accurate energy spectrum as the input to a computerized treatment planning system, which will be used in synchrotron microbeam radiotherapy trials at the ESRF. Calculated and measured energy spectra on ID17 have been reported previously but recent additions and safety modifications to the beamline for veterinary trials warranted a fresh investigation. The authors used an established methodology to compare X-ray attenuation measurements in copper sheets (referred to as half value layer measurements in the radiotherapy field) with the predictions of a theoretical model. A cylindrical ionization chamber in air was used to record the relative attenuation of the X-ray beam intensity by increasing thicknesses of high-purity copper sheets. The authors measured the half value layers in copper for two beamline configurations, which corresponded to differing spectral conditions. The authors obtained good agreement between the measured and predicted half value layers for the two beamline configurations. The measured first half value layer was 1.754 +/- 0.035 mm Cu and 1.962 +/- 0.039 mm Cu for the two spectral conditions, compared with theoretical predictions of 1.763 +/- 0.039 mm Cu and 1.984 +/- 0.044 mm Cu, respectively. The calculated mean energies for the two conditions were 105 keV and 110 keVand there was not a substantial difference in the calculated percentage depth dose curves in water between the different spectral conditions. The authors observed a difference between their calculated energy spectra and the spectra previously reported by other authors, particularly at energies greater than 100 keV. The validation of the beam spectrum by the copper half value layer measurements means the authors can provide an accurate spectrum as an input to a treatment planning system for the forthcoming veterinary trials of microbeam radiotherapy to spontaneous tumours in cats and dogs.